Aging Survey

The Older, the Better

Germany's senior citizens are optimistic, motivated and active. Source: DPA

The vast majority of Germany’s senior citizens are content with their lives. That’s the result of a new survey of more than 4,100 people between 65 and 85 years old by the German division of Italian insurer Generali.

On a scale from 0 (“not satisfied at all”) to 10 (“completely satisfied”), Germany’s older population chose an average of 7.2, according to the data presented on Wednesday.

A majority of those surveyed also took a favorable view of their economic situation. Ten percent consider their financial situation “very good” and 52 percent deemed their situations “good.” In all, 65- to 85-year-olds have an average household net income of €2,410 ($2,553) per month.

Compared with the last study in 2013, that’s an increase of €200 per month, or 10 percent. Their personal, freely available financial assets increased by 20 percent from an average €522 to €628 per month over the last four years.

However, there are considerable differences among Germany’s senior citizens. Free disposable income varies widely, from €351 per month to €1,027.

Social status also appears to play an influence on health. While 52 percent with higher social status rate their health as positive, only 28 percent from lower social classes did the same.

About a third of the 65- to 85-year-olds are interested in new technology and half use the internet. Internet usage ranges by income. While just 23 percent of 65- to 85-year-olds from lower-income groups are online, it is 81 percent for upper-income groups.

Germany has one of the oldest populations in Europe. Twenty-one percent of the population is over 65, compared to 18.9 in the European Union. And Germany’s population is getting older: By 2030 28.8 percent will be over 65, compared with a European average of 22.6 percent.

The conditions in Germany’s economy and job market are favorable.

Germany’s retirement age will rise progressively from 65 to 67 by 2029. But many Germans are eligible to retire with full benefits as early as 63, if they have worked for at least 45 years.

Last August, the German Federal Bank, known as the Bundesbank, proposed increasing the retirement age to 69 by 2060 to stabilize the country’s pension system. But the government rejected the proposal.

“The federal government stands by retirement at 67,” said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel. “There are always discussions and sometimes the Bundesbank participates.”

Meanwhile, many people in Germany are working past retirement age because they enjoy it and want to keep busy, not because they fear poverty in old age.

In Europe, only Denmark, Sweden and Britain have a higher percentage of people continuing to work after they reach retirement age than Germany. One of the reasons, according to the pension insurance office, is the booming labor market. Another is the strong reduction in pension payments for those who take early retirement.

Daniel Tost is an editor with Handelsblatt Global. To contact him:

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